If Ben heads up the "I have to write about defensemen I don't care about, nor should you" department (by the way, I would love to head up this department), then I head up the "I have to write about Sam Gagner every year" department. For some reason*, Scott gives me the Gagner assignment more often than not and I have to try a new angle to keep things fresh and invigorating. This time is going to be a bit different. I'm going to be short and to the point.
Gagner remains in 6th place for the 3rd consecutive cycle, and this time once again it's Ben who is the resident optimist. It would be interesting to see why Ben is so optimistic, but maybe next time.
Here are a number of very interesting comparables for Gagner, era-adjusted by normalizing scoring to 6 goals per game throughout history. The comparables are Dale Hunter, Mike Comrie, Brian Bellows, Dave Andreychuk and Ed Olczyk.
Gagner is clear of Hunter and Comrie, walking in lockstep with Bellows and is just 4 points per season away from Andreychuk. Olczyk is the outlying positive marker in Gagner's possibilities. In style and makeup, however, Olczyk is the closest match to Gagner amongst this group. Andreychuk lucked into playing on a team with Pat LaFontaine, Alex Mogilny and Dale Hawerchuk, much like Gagner ended up with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall and Nail Yakupov, so moving up a level into the Andreychuk points range isn't out of the question. Bellows scored much more often than Gagner, and though Gagner isn't dirty like Hunter, they do have play-making skills in common.
The first thing I noticed was that Gagner's 23-year old season was second amongst this crew to Olczyk, but Gagner's possession game took a huge turn for the worse last season. Also interesting is the tight bunching in the 24-year old season for these fellows. Their average 82 game production was an era-adjusted 60 points, which would 54 points in 82 games for Gagner. Given Gagner's likelihood to play ~75 games, if he hangs in there with this group, he would total 49 points in 75 games.
*Scott is a mean person.
Check out the complete Top 25 Under 25 List in our